TechTalk: Toigo: DR planning required, but DR staffing is low

According to Jon Toigo, of Toigo Partners International, IT professionals need to have a "serious conversation" about DR planning with management, as companies are increasingly dependent upon the uninterrupted service of their IT infrastructure while cutting back on DR staffing.  

"I think it's about time we all have a serious conversation about continuity planning, because a lot of companies have been ignoring it for way too long … We're more dependent today on the successful operation of our applications and our infrastructure than we've ever been before. And that comes at exactly the same time where austerity is set into many companies, and we've collapsed staff sizes responsible to manage and maintain all that infrastructure," said Toigo. 

While what Toigo calls "Big D" disasters -- earthquakes, floods and the like -- caused $378 billion in damages in 2011, he said, organizations should focus on relatively less serious, but potentially disruptive, emergency situations. Those hazards include disk drive failures and power outages at data centers, along with the costs of leaving staff idle while systems are down.

"What I'm concerned about is this stuff: We're storing data on spinning rust -- disk drives. The annual failure rate of disk drives is at least twice what the disk drive manufacturers are telling us," said Toigo.

Toigo said a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University placed the failure rate of disk drives at double what the manufacturers reported. He noted that if multiple drives fail, the damage done can put an organization into a "serious world of hurt."

A critical aspect of DR isn't just having a plan, but practicing it as well, said Toigo. He noted that DR experts have a rule of thumb that states only half of organizations have a continuity plan, and just half of those plans are actually tested.

"A plan is only valid the day you print it. The next day, it's no longer valid. It's out of step with the changes that have occurred in the business and the infrastructure and the data and everything else. You have to test your plans on an ongoing basis," said Toigo.

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